Brazilian police arrest fugitive linked to Hezbollah

Blanche Robertson
September 24, 2018

Brazilian federal police said in a Friday written statement that the country's Supreme Court authorized his arrest after Paraguayan authorities issued a warrant late in August.

Authorities in Paraguay are seeking Barakat on allegations of false representation.

In 2006, the US Treasury Department described Barakat as a "global terrorist" and included his name on a list of people in the Triple Frontier area who helped finance Hezbollah.

While Washington considers the whole group a terrorist organization, the European Union only designates its military wing as such.

Barakat spent six years in a Paraguayan prison for tax evasion but was released in 2008, after which he moved to Brazil. Two years later it added several of his associates to its watchlist, on which Barakat remains.

Assad Ahmad Barakat was detained near the border with Paraguay and Argentina.

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Mr. Ottolenghi said the shift might have come about because the new government in Paraguay is trying to shed its reputation as a haven for corruption and financial crime in order to attract worldwide investment, while Brazil is starting to see the activities of Mr. Barakat and his associates as a form of organized crime.

In Paraguay, Barakat is accused of presenting a declaration of incorrect nationality and omitting information about the loss of nationality, the prosecutors' statement said.

The money was allegedly destined for Hezbollah's coffers, but the funds and other assets were frozen by Argentine authorities, Brazilian police said.

The police in Argentina have accused Barakat of laundering $10m (£7.6m) on behalf of Hezbollah at a casino in the Iguazu Falls area.

It is not clear whether he is going to extradited to Paraguay or will face charges in Brazil.

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